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I can now officially lay claim to being a barefoot Tri-Yak-er, and before you start snickering, the “yak” part has nothing to do with vomit, it’s a literary-inclusion of the KAYAK leg…

A little quote from the RRP website:

Redemption Race Productions goal is to produce quality events at new and exciting race venues that will include Triathlons, Duathlons, Road races, Off Road events and Kid’s Triathlons.

Boy did they EVER manage to do just that with this one!

There were two options to choose from for this race:

  1. Traditional Triathlon Swim/Bike/Run: 400m out and back river swim/13.4 mile Cycle/3.3 Mile Run (paved)
  2. Kayak Triathlon: Bike/Kayak/Run: 13.4 mile cycle/ 1 mile Kayak/ 3.3 Mile Run (paved)

In the long and glorious tradition of not sticking to traditions, I chose the Kayak Tri!

Packet pickup was its usual well oiled machine, simple and efficient. The race director Brian was on-hand to chat and answer questions. I opted for the Friday pickup at the Stone Oak location of Roger Soler’s Sports. Though I usually LOVE to chat, it was a quick in and out this time…no time to chat, I was taking the Things’ Three to their G-MA’s for the weekend!

Mrs. MuddyJ and I spent a carefree Saturday at home, and I spent a portion of the evening getting ready for the event. I checked over Esmeralda Consuela Bonita, adjusting her derailers and brakes and cleaning her chain… and FORGETTING TO CHECK MY TIRE PRESSURE… a hard learned lesson the next day!

0500 came all-too-soon, and a bright and cheery Mrs. MuddyJ roused me from my slumber. We got ready for the day, with me donning my brand spanking new tri-suit underneath my Windcrest Freshman Triathlon T-shirt and a pair of cargo shorts. I had tri-ed to silkscreen my “Muddy J.com” muddy toes… and the result came out looking like a slightly inept attempt at a super-hero costume: (ie: GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME):

The early morning was showing to be a perfect day for a triathlon..not too hot and not too cold!It was a short drive with no traffic snares-a rare thing in San Antonio and I got to the venue, Rockin’ R River Rides, with about 20 minutes to spare until transition was due to close. I could have parked for free in Gruene up a small hill, but Mrs. MuddyJ and I decided that the 10$ to park on-site would be money well spent.

I made sure Esmeralda was in the right starting gear, got body marked and headed into the tightly packed transition area. I also learned I shouldn’t leave race stickers on my bike, they tend to confuse the person body marking you.

If there were one thing to complain about at this race, the cycle racks at transition would be my first and only choice they were a little lot on the LOW side. I am usually a seat-racker – I just don’t like racking my ride via the brake levers for fear they might become “broken” levers – and the racks were too low to do so… leaving me no choice but to hope for the best.

Since I would only be dealing with one transition (bike/Kayak), getting set-up in transition was a rather simple endeavor. I set Esmeralda on the (low)rack and cradled my helmet in the aero-bars. The Kayak Tri was set to be Bike/Kayak/Run, with no transition after the kayak…you just got out, dragged it up the beach and set off running.

Before long, Brian gave his pre-race instructions , mumbling something about a “BIG BRIDGE” under his breath a few times. We all bowed our heads for a pre-race prayer – A Redemption Racing trademark adhered to with every RRP event.

After the race meeting and prayer, those starting the Triathlon with a swim went down to the water’s edge, and the Tri-yakers stood anxiously by their bikes in transition to wait… and wait… and wait….

The police support for the road portions was late, and the decision was made to delay the race’s start-for obvious safety reasons. It didn’t take long, but everyone was hyped on pre-race adrenaline and the grousing began after a few minutes. It was light-hearted complaining though, as no racer was all too keen on the idea of not having traffic control at the intersections.

Oh, and by the way-this ETERNAL WAIT lasted all of 5-10 minutes…

The two separate races began almost simultaneously – the swimmers began their time trial starts, and then the tri-yakers were released in waves related to their rack placement. Soon enough it was my turn, and I ran out of the transition area to the mounting area, hopped on Esmeralda Consuela Bonita and I was off!

I consider myself a fairly strong cyclist, but this course showed me where I was weak. I sailed along on the flats, and I absolutely flew on the downhill (my Motoactv clocked a max speed of 33.5 MPH) –The course was out and back, meaning those downhills were also uphill, and vice-versa on the return leg… This is where I remembered I hadn’t checked my tire pressure, and Esmeralda’s tire’s showed signs of low pressure every-time I stood up in the saddle tri-ing to conquer a climb. I can make all the excuses in the world, but the fact remains, I am primarily an obstacle racer and ultra-runner – I need to train on my bike to tackle climbs…’nuff said

Soon I was hitting the final miles of the cycle leg – and rather than standing and stretching my calves for transition, I went full tilt until I reached the end. I hopped off at the dismount line and ran my bike to the transition rack.

My favorite fan and race photographer, Mrs MuddyJ, got some great shots of me on the return approach:

I had decided to really punish my legs on the cycle portion, with the expectation that the kayak leg would simply punish my upper body. I am a Tough Mudder, a Spartan Racer, and a three-time Conqueror of the Gladiator Rock ‘N’ Run– I may not have the biggest “guns” but my upper body has gotten me through enough that I was confident going into the Kayak leg…for a few strokes at least.

The ‘kayaks’ turned out to be a completely different vehicle then I expected. I heard “kayak” and envisioned a low-slung boat, sleek and efficient as I sliced through the water with my paddle. This was not to be: The kayaks that were provided for the race were large inflatable boats more similar to a canoe or a rowboat. As unwieldy as this was though, it truly levelled out the playing field and showed the value of good technique…and everyone looked equally ridiculous-Mrs MuddyJ told me she laughed at my valiant efforts until I was out of sight…

…and continued laughing for a little while after…

I won’t lie. The Kayak leg hurt! I paddled as best I could, trying to learn by watching those around me who were doing better. It was all I could do to keep my GIANT INFLATABLE kayak going in a semi-straight line… The river wasn’t exactly fast flowing, but there were large rocks under the surface that could hold up an unsuspecting kayaker. Somewhere in or around the second set of rapids, a fellow racer (wearing shoes) was hung up on some rocks and trying desperately to get free…because I didn’t have to worry about getting my shoes wet, not to mention a helluva guy, I hopped out of mine to free him from his unwanted perch… for my troubles I took a paddle to the noggin before he realized I was there….and as soon as he was free, my kayak, now a few feet away, took off…

Have you ever tri-ed to catch up with a boat or tube as it floats effortlessly over shallow rapids? It’s not fun, but I managed to catch up to it and hop back in, my good Samaritan act performed for the day.

Ever have one of those moments in a race where your trying your hardest, really giving it 110%….and someone passes you effortlessly like you’re standing still? There I was, panting like a Saint Bernard on a hot summer’s day with every muscle in my chest and arms screaming for relief…. and a 60-year-old woman passed me like I was standing still! She was just dipping and rowing like it was the easiest thing on earth! “Good for Her!”, I thought and she disappeared from view silently cursing to myself that I should have done the traditional tri…

After what seemed an eternity, the River opened up and there was the “BIG BRIDGE” we had been warned to turn around at. I paddled like a madman against the current after I negotiated the turn around the bridge’s support post and made it to the beaching point. I hopped out into the ankle-deep water and dragged my boat onto the shore… ready to run!

About as welcome as a punch in the nether-regions, RRP races always seem to have that one hill near the end that mocks you as you try to gather the strength to conquer it. The Natural Bridge Caverns 10k had one, and the NBC 1/2 Marathon had one as well.(in fact that was the same hill.)..the Windcrest Tri was lacking one, but only because the City of Windcrest won’t let RRP install a huge hill for one race a year…so instead the cycle was 70% climbing!

Well, needless to say, the first 1/4 mile of the 3.3 run was straight uphill.

On rocks.

I tried to run at first, but the kayak portion had taken my wind, so I walked up the hill as soon as the trail turned into pavement. Once the hill was crested, it flattened out and I settled into a race pace (7:58 per minute) that I could maintain on my still broken toe.

We crossed a field and ran behind a building with race marshalls there to tell us which way to go.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had picked up a burr on my left foot crossing the grassy field.. and as soon as I turned onto the paved road, it felt like I had a small stone stuck to the bottom of my foot…but it wouldn’t let go!

The next intersection saw the two differing tri’s finally merge back into one running course, and I kept up my pace, ignoring the ‘stone’ on the bottom of my left foot until I hit the aid station. I stopped for a swallow of water, parched, and lifted my foot…

I picked the burr off carefully, so it wouldn’t break off and leave a splinter in my foot, and just like that, relief was instant. I set back off on the run, keeping my pace up until the final hill.

Usually, I would love to have one final hill to run DOWN…but right now I am still nursing a broken toe… So I had to take it a little easier than I might have otherwise. At the bottom of the hill, I took off as best as I could and sprinted the final distance across the Rockin’ R parking lot to the finish:

The MC pointed out to everyone that I am one of those crazy barefoot runners, toting my toughness and lack of sanity for competing in the NBC Half-Marathon barefoot.

I found Mrs MuddyJ and headed over to the timing area to check my results:

IMG_5411Fourth Place in my Age group! A new record for me.. and the closest I have ever come to being “on the podium” Oh well, I will train harder, master Hills and be on that podium soon!

As I was walking past him to grab a Kiolbasa Sausage wrap to eat (another reason to love RRP events…awesome food!), Brian ( the RRP owner and MC ) turned to me and said “Come here, Barefoot Boy!” He handed me the mic and told me to let all the competitors know about MuddyJ.com… I did my best…but I am a writer, not a speaker! Thankfully he repeated everything I said mumbled, as later Mrs. MuddyJ would tell me it sounded like I swallowed the mic before trying to speak….

The final cyclist came in, and transition was opened for us to retrieve our bikes. I grabbed Esmeralda and racked her on my car, I guess she had fallen over after I racked her, because my helmet and ‘J’uaraches were about 5 feet away.  Thank you  to whoever re-racked her for me… that was nice of you to do for me and took a little longer in your transition!

Mrs. MuddyJ and I stuck around for the door prizes and awards ceremony, which, at one point, turned into a free for all as T-shirts were flung into the audience.The flinging of door prizes ended before the Roger Soler’s Gift certificates… sadly…

After the awards, I walked over to the Swim-it Display and asked some questions about the product… I have been contemplating getting one of these life-saving devices for a while, and it was really nice to see one in action, but it’s just not in my budget right now. Maybe they’ll send me one for a review? (hey, I can HOPE!)

It’s no secret that I am fond of Redemption Race Productions-they have consistently impressed me with each and every event of theirs I have attended….and this one was no different.

As Gruene is a quaint little tourist town nestled upon the banks of a river, Mrs MuddyJ and I spent a few hours walking around and eventually getting a bite to eat at the Cantina Del Rio before heading home to unwind. All in All… a great way to spend a Sunday!

Next up for me? Doing what I do best…. getting muddy and filthy at the TOOBABALOOZA!:

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followed a week later by yet another Triathlon, the Gator Bait Triathlon:

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cause I am pretty sure I like Tri’s now…and I am a glutton for punishment.

Check back in the near future, (like later this week even) as I have the very first MuddyJ.com giveaway coming up, and it’s going to be chock full o’ awesome stuff you want, like race entries! A-roo (that’s a clue) (maybe not chock full per se, but there will be a few items on the shelf for you to enter to win)

Until next time:

Stay Muddy My Friends!

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